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Abundance and population trends of mangrove landbirds in southwest Florida

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The avifauna of south Florida's mangrove forests is unique and relatively unstudied. The population status of landbirds that breed in these forests is currently unknown, and this lack of information is especially problematic for species that have North American ranges limited almost exclusively to Florida's mangroves. To address this information gap, we estimated trends in abundance using data generated during bird surveys conducted from 2000 to 2008 at 101 points in mangrove forests in southwestern Florida. We found that populations of two of three mangrove-dependent species that breed in these forests, Black-whiskered Vireos (Vireo altiloquus) and Mangrove Cuckoos (Coccyzus minor), declined significantly during our study. In contrast, only one of seven species with a broader North American range (Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinensis) declined in abundance. No species increased in abundance. The Mangrove Cuckoo population exhibited the greatest decline, with numbers declining 87.1% from 2000 to 2008. Numbers of Black-whiskered Vireos declined 63.9%. These declines coincided with the outbreak of West Nile virus that has been linked to population declines of other North American birds, but we could not rule out other potential causes, including changes in the quality or extent of breeding or wintering habitat.

Keywords: Black-whiskered Vireo; Coccyzus minor; Mangrove Cuckoo; Vireo altiloquus; West Nile virus; mangroves; population decline

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MBSP 4407, Arlington, Virginia 22203, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2011


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